The issue of what to do with the Burchfield Nature and Art Center has resurfaced again when participation of the public has been curtailed by the various Executive Orders necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Center was closed in January 2017, it was only partially reopened in May of 2018. Councilman Bauer and Assemblyman Burke are dangling the potential to receive a $100,000 grant to restore and reopen the center. Even Assemblyman Burke says that this “process can be lengthy.”. Not only is this process lengthy, it may not result in the Town getting this money.
Even assuming that the Town will get this money, at some point down the line, it is not all the money needed to restore and reopen the Center. According to the various estimates it will cost somewhere between $300,000 and $900,000.
Then we have the lawsuit by the Town against various designers, architects and engineers that designed, planned and built the Center. This action was dismissed last year on statute of limitations grounds. The Town appealed that decision and we are currently awaiting a decision from the Appellate Court. As of October 2018, the Town spent over $40,000 on this litigation through September 2018 before these appeals were undertaken, this sum is substantially more now. Even if the Town wins this appeal it will not result in a decision on the merits in the Town’s favor. It will simply restore the lawsuit for further proceedings. Even if this lawsuit is ultimately successful it will be years for any money to come to the Town for use in restoring and reopening the Center.
What to do with this structure does not have to be decided now given the length of time that has passed since its initial shuttering. Let the voters of the Town make this decision, after all we will be the ones paying for whatever decision Is made on this issue. Put the following question on the general election ballot for the Town pursuant to Town Law 81(1)(b):
“Shall the Town of West Seneca demolish the town structure located at 2001 Union Road known as the Burchfield Nature and Art Center?”
If the vote passes, we demolish the building, if it fails, we work to restoring and reopening it. Let the voters decide this issue.
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